Creating a Project Management Workflow
Now that you are ready to create a project management workflow, let's go through each phase of the process step-by-step:
Phase One: Project Planning
The project planning phase of a workflow starts with research based on a client brief or an idea of your own. At this stage, you and your team will discover what will be involved to complete the project and whether or not the objectives are feasible.
Next, it’s time to draft a rough plan. This rough plan should include:
Collaborate with team leaders to find out if any details are missing from your rough plan. Before you finalize your plan, make sure you have the answers to these questions:
What are the deliverables, or objectives, of the project?
What steps need to be completed to execute the project?
Who needs to be involved with each phase of the project?
When does the project need to be completed?
When does each milestone need to be completed?
Remember that the situation might change as the project evolves, so plan accordingly and leave room for flexibility.
Phase Two: Project Workflow Mapping
Now that you and your team have created a plan, it’s time to begin the next phase of project workflow mapping. This is where you will develop a project workflow diagram that reflects how you want the project to be executed.
Before you create your visual map, it can be helpful to mark up a few key project aspects:
Identify the beginning and ending points of the project
Form a detailed and accurate list of the steps required to execute the project
Identify key decision points and resources that will be required to make those decisions
Now you’re ready to map your project workflow.
Start by collecting as much information as possible about the project requirements and execution. This should include quantitative data such as financials and supplies and qualitative data like who is in charge of delegating tasks or how the client wants the end result to be perceived. Involve as many team members and stakeholders as you need to get enough data to form an accurate picture of the project.
Next, draft your project workflow diagram based on all the information that you have collected so far. By now, you should have a near-complete mental image of how the project will play out. This step involves translating that mental image into an easy-to-follow visual aide.
Finally, you’ll need to go back and fine-tune your rough diagram. At this point, it’s a good idea to involve stakeholders and other key team members so that you can ensure the workflow works for everyone involved and you can make adjustments before the project begins.
Phase Three: Workflow Analysis
This phase of creating a project management workflow is all about analyzing your workflow to make sure that the steps are optimized for the best outcomes. Let’s break workflow analysis down into three parts:
Prioritize tasks — Start by prioritizing tasks based on how crucial they are. You can label tasks urgent, important, nice to have, and redundant. Look at the tasks and steps you labeled “redundant” and decide if you can eliminate or consolidate them.
Identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies — Next, Look for potential bottlenecks and other inefficiencies. Work to streamline these issues before the project is implemented.
Look for tasks that can be automated — Lastly, look for opportunities to automate portions of your workflow. By automating tedious or time-consuming tasks, you can increase your team’s productivity and achieve your goals and milestones faster.
While analyzing your workflow diagram, keep in mind the 80/20 rule. This rule, also known as the Pareto principle, suggests that 80% of your outcomes will come from only 20% of the work. Drill into the 20% of areas where results come from to increase positive impacts and eliminate negative outcomes.
Make sure to communicate any changes to stakeholders and other figures involved in the workflow planning and mapping process. Not only does this help ensure the accuracy of your diagram, but it will also confirm whether or not the changes will generate positive effects in all areas of the project’s execution.
Phase Four: Project Launch
Now that you have optimized your project workflow, it’s time to launch the project. There’s more to a project launch than simply “getting started.” Each project should start with a meeting to kick off the project and establish a solid beginning point. There are three key aspects of the project that should be communicated or reestablished at this kickoff meeting:
Reiterate project objectives — Make sure that everyone on the team starts out on the same page by reaffirming the objectives of the project including the end results and any milestones along the way.
Assign roles and responsibilities — Even if work has already been delegated and communicated to the appropriate departments, it can be helpful to communicate to the entire team who plays what roles so that they can troubleshoot and communicate independently.
Establish collaboration policies — This is where you lay down the ground rules for when and how team members should communicate about project tasks. This will most likely be through project management software or other integrations.
Phase Five: Project Control
The final phase of your workflow is all about maintaining project efficiency, solving problems, and measuring the project’s status. This phase will last until your final deliverables are executed, and your project has ended.
Use KPIs to measure the success of your project workflow, such as:
Progress — Measure the progress of the project against the project objectives to discover whether you are on schedule or if some adjustments will need to be made.
Quality of work — Use quality control and quality management practices to ensure that tasks and deliverables are executed with the correct level of quality.
Resource usage — Accurately measure how much your project costs so that you can stay on budget and meet your deadline.
Performance — Keep track of any problems, issues, or inefficiencies that occurred. Record how the problems were solved, any action that needs to be taken to prevent issues from recurring, and how to improve your workflow in the future.